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Smart meter model linked to fires not used by any Ontario utility: regulator

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TORONTO - None of Ontario's utilities use the same model of so-called "smart" meters that has been linked to fires in Saskatchewan, the province's electricity regulator said Monday.

Thirty-six of 77 utilities in Ontario use smart meters from U.S.-based Sensus Inc., but none are the Generation 3.3 model used in Saskatchewan, said Ontario Energy Board spokeswoman Karen Cormier.

"The utilities have not reported any safety concerns," she said in an email.

Smart meters have been linked to 23 incidents reported to Ontario's Fire Marshal from 2011 to 2013, which included 13 small fires.

SaskPower plans to remove all 105,000 of its Sensus smart meters and replace them with traditional units.

Utilities in Philadelphia and Oregon have also reportedly decided to remove the Sensus meters after a number of devices overheated and some caught fire.

Sensus has defended its products, saying its inspections and tests into the recent incidents point to external factors, such as holes in the meter boxes that allowed water in, or power surges.

The company said all its meters go through rigorous testing and meet or exceed industry safety standards.

Ontario's governing Liberals say more than 4.78 million residential and small business customers in the province have a smart meter, which records consumption of electric energy in small intervals and can relay the information electronically to a power company.

It eliminates the need to estimate bills when a meter reader can't do a check on site.

The province's energy minister declined to comment Monday, but a spokeswoman says there are still no plans to remove any smart meters over fire concerns.

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